On April 9, 2013, Lois Lerner, the Director of Exempt Organization at the IRS, sent an email to Maria Hooke, who is an IT person at the IRS, and copied Nanette Downing, who was in charge of organizational audits as the Acting Director of Exempt Organizations-Examinations at the IRS.
Lerner email to Hooke and Downing on April 9, 2013:
I had a question today about OCS. I was cautioning folks about email and how we have had several occasions where Congress has asked for emails and there has been an electronic search for responsive emails—so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails. Someone asked if OCS conversations were also searchable—I don’;t know, but told them I would get back to them. Do you know?
Hooke response to Lerner and Downing on April 9, 2013:
OCS messages are not set to automatically save the standard; however the functionality exists within the software. That being said the parties involved in an OCS conversation can copy and save the contents of the conversation to an email or file.
To date OCS conversations are not specifically identified as part of the Electronic Data Request (EDR) for inforamtion, however, if one of the parties saved the conversation as an email or file they would become part of the electronic search.
My general recommendation is to treat the conversation as if it could/is being saved somehwere, as it is possible for either party of the conversation to retain the information and have it turn up as part of the electronic search.
Lerner response to Hooke and Downing on April 9, 2013: